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What’s in your yard? sale


As I ride my bike along rural Coddington Road I see a sign, “Estate Sale” in front of what I learn is a columned-house built near 1920, from the owner who has built a large hill of possessions on her yard. Although I am downsizing my apartment, I do not resist a stop to peruse. To STARE.

I buy an old-fashioned rusty push-out-two-level step chair so I can reach to change the smoke detector located on the high ceiling of my 1840s home. It’s the off-limits backyard I wander into where I wish for three of her flowerpots unused except by weeds. Karen, the owner, is not willing to part with them in late June when most gardeners have filled their flowerpots.

I return in late July, when she agrees to sell me the three I want, to replace the plastic ones I’ve owned for years and now am on a rampage to get rid of, recycle, an EVOLution from no longer buying water in plastic bottles for at least two decades. No Puffs tissues for three decades, me and my clients using bandanas to absorb our tears and snotty noses. No paper towels allowed. Only TP.

Telling and showing my love to Mother Earth who gives up part of her yard for my possessions: a ceramic window box, growing me feelings: happy, proud, greatfull and love.


Drama Queen of (human) Nature

Just a week ago, Dave and I separated after nearly three years of a spiritual marriage – because he says I’m “too extreme.” To limit him to two alcoholic drinks per day, when science says he should not drink at all due to him having high blood pressure and kidney issues.

And I talk “too much” about my dad: how much I love him and miss him! (He lost his dad to cancer at age 14, whom he loved.)

I talk to my flowers too – out loud – like a conversation with friends; I tell my family and friends, you introduce your friends by name, right?

As I hike to Lickbrook Falls with an ax over my right 76-year-old shoulder, carrying a pail in my left hand, I talk to the dragon and damsel flies that scurry around me: “Thank you Gaylee for saying hello,” as dragonflies were “her animal.” As is the red cardinal flying dad’s presence around me.

Gaylee died in 2019 of cancer and was and is my best friend ever. Although I have been married five times, dad is still the “best man” ever. Recently, I learned he was even a Ritchie boy. *

I was ready to give up looking for the wild Mullein, to transplant into my diverse cultivated and wildflower garden, as I walked Lickbrook’s dry creek and suddenly look up to see five Mulleins, surprisingly spaced 5-6 feet apart while standing 5-6 feet tall, showing off their spires of yellow blossoms barely hanging on. Falling in and out of love without much drama.

I am delighted to take one home, and to see it rooted with me and other flower friends, like the 3-4-foot-tall Queen Anne’s lace – the drama queen.


*A Ritchie boy is an Austrian or German army service man who served in WWII, providing intelligence for the United States which contributed greatly to the winning of the war.


DIRTY little secret?

Shit! I say as my good sneaker slides into the wet muddy dirt washed onto the patio by a refreshing storm. I’ve lived here six years long enough to know this happens yet am not noticing my foot placement. I’m looking at two sunflowers sitting on top of the BBQ, to see if they are still thriving in their 2”x3” seeding plastic (ugh) pots bought at the Earlybird garden green house.

Their brothers and sisters have succumbed to being eaten by a rabbit, I figure, after three days of seeing they weren’t. Too hopeful to not place the chicken fence around them. It’s a battle between the animals and plants; who will survive?

Don’t get me wrong, get me right, I love placing my hands in the dirt, mother earth; I will not wear gloves; I gladly wash her from under my fingernails. No place for fingernail polish, only rainbow-colored toes are allowed.

As I toil in the soil, pulling weeds, axing the dry dirt, mixed with miracle grow garden soil, fondly placing the young plants, I say out loud: “I hope you like your new home.”

I break off a chocolate mint leaf, place it on my tongue, to taste, to chew, not just to smell. Yes, it is powerful, to smell and then actually taste as dark chocolate mint, my favorite flavor.

I am reminded it is not the toil that makes the mint return each year, but the dirt I’d rather call soil. Soul of my pleasure.


Filled with GRATITUDE


It’s so obvious, need I say or write that gratitude is great FULLness for one’s health; without which as my mother said: it’s no fun growing old. Nearing 77, I am happy to say I am growing old gracefully, dancing several nights a week.

Which always, yes always, leads me to being greatfull for my karma, the daily amazement of the father granted me. Although my mother did not want me, as I was birthed as a child of rape, my non-bio-dad did welcome me by signing my birth certificate and loved me; I felt I was his own as much as were my brother and sister born after me. He was the nurturer, as I have often written, fed us as babies, bathed us, read to us at bedtime, my shoulder leaning into his strong arm while reading Grimm’s fairy tales: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.

Obviously, dad was way ahead of his time: 1950s, 60s, 70s.

Obviously, feeling loved is the root that allows us to bloom as adults; to empathize with others, show compassion instead of judgmentalness. His love allowed me to rebel against a strict religious upbringing, to leave by age 38 (too late in my book).

His example of spending quality time with me, (I could make a long list) and volunteering as one of the first male counselors, answering calls from desperate people on the night shift for Ithaca’s Suicide and Prevention Service is…

Obviously, why I chose to become a Marriage and Family Therapist, and now to pay my dad’s love forward as I evolved to my fifth and present marriage. I fell in love, after Dave walked into Skaneateles Lake in July of 2020, smiling a hello to me as I swam laps, a day I was hunting for waterfalls, a love affair of mine. Soon, we are walking out of the lake, me behind, to see more than his face – his broad shoulders, muscular arms, I’m immediately attracted, unusual for me, as is his 6’2” stature ratio to mine of 5’9”.

We sit on the grassy beach, after I squeeze the water from my swimsuit top, which I learn later was a turn on for Dave, seeing my boobs squeezed together.

Together being the operating principle, even as he is on vacation with his wife, a rocky marriage of thirty years due to her alcoholism. He volunteered to show me Carpenter Falls which he had hiked to earlier that day alone; his soon to be ex-wife not being interested. Interestingly, he is a carpenter with big, beautiful hands.

Two and a half years later, we are still spiritually married, as I proposed to him only 3 months into our relationship. I am greatfull for this meant-to-be miraculous meeting; what are the chances of us both being on vacation outside of our hometowns? He being from Depew, NY and me from Ithaca, NY? Of waterfalling in love? Although we are very different:

No therapy carpenter<> psychotherapist with many years of primal grieving

Open heart surgery on medications<> ten years older on no medications

Been in thirty-year (second) marriage<>married five times.

Voted for Trump<>voted for Biden.

We do have in common: two adult children we are both very involved with, both independents politically, both loving to hike to waterfalls all over New York state, and most importantly both wish to grow emotionally/spiritually. Most of all I feel gratitude when I allow tears to flow that continue to heal my heart so I can pay daddy’s love forward. And then some.

Daily, I touch dad’s photo, where he stands next to his German cousin, dad’s arms behind his back, obvious is his open heart, while his cousin crosses his arms over his heart. Now, I can say, “I love you,” out loud: I couldn’t say those 3 precious words when dad was alive☹although we wrote them, he passed physically in 1977. Yet his love passes through me daily, to have the courage to sing IMAGINE this past Memorial Day weekend at the karaoke evening at Mockingbird Campground😊.


“When the shell of my heart breaks open, tears shall pour forth… and they shall be called the pearls of god.” Rumi, 13th century poet





kNEW American Dream?

 While growing up in the 1950s and 60s, I heard the American Dream to be: own a home protected by a white picket fence. Why white I ask myself? A symbol of the white supremacy we continue to dismantle, struggling with its partner, patriarchy. Being a white woman who has owned two houses consecutively, and now lives in an apartment I love, an 1840s house broken into four apartments, I wonder what is my American dream.

I have been lucky enough to grow up in Ithaca is Gorges, NY, whose parents both served in WWII – my dad leaving his native land, Germany, to fight as a US citizen against Hitler, recently learning he was a Ritchie Boy – a soldier being of Austrian or German recruits, who become secret military intelligence officers, trained at Camp Ritchie, Maryland, who were “integral in gathering counterintelligence that helped secure victory for the Allies in WWII”(google.)

I doubt it was dad’s dream to fight for the freedom we cherish in America, leaving his six siblings and parents behind at age 17, eventually to raise three children with the American girl he fell in love with, his nurse on the ship Huddleston returning from WWII, she being pregnant by rape in Bremerhoffen, Germany. Was its dad’s dream to adopt me? Probably not – but he chose to love me, equally to his two children born after me.

I couldn’t have asked for a more (amour😊) loving dad, tears leaking as I write this sentence. I never tire of writing of this dream that came true for me: Dad’s love.

Which I pay forward by advocating for over 30 years, to teach a Healthy Relationship Skills Course at the local high school – knowing that healthy parenting education is how we can EVOLve toward LOVE that will end spanking (hitting) our children, or telling them: don’t talk back, stop crying or go to your room, big boys and girls don’t cry, or do as I say, not as I do.

I woke up this morning, April 15th, thinking and feeling I am living the American Dream, remembering how special I felt yesterday, when I hung up two 5×7 photos either hidden in a corner or in a drawer, of my two beautiful daughters as teenagers, (now 49 and 52) over the kitchen sink, reflecting a gargantuan smile on my face as I wash dishes.




Kill your TV??

Remember the KILL YOUR TV bumper sticker, popular in the 1980s and 90s? What a paradox I think to myself – ‘violently’ wanting us to rid ourselves of the TV, and to believe that TV ‘violently’ corrupts our minds? Are humans afraid of grooming an addiction to TV I ask myself. Then wondering why people can’t turn their TVs off with kindness.

I have learned much from the in-depth reporting by 60 Minutes or 20/20 or PBS, and can select free movies on Roku TV, the 43-inch screen I selected because 143 symbolizes I love you in numerology. One letter is the I, four letters the love, and three letters the you. I handcuff watching time to after 6:30pm, no daytime soap operas although I am far past retirement age, working part time as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I am a writer too, although The SUN has chosen not to publish any of my 243 readers write submissions, wishing I could be funny like Sparrow. Guess I may be addicted to writing to The SUN. I have subscribed for over 25 years, I’ve lost count Sparrow😊, always excitedly hoping to find a copy every month in my mailbox before the first.

As I have aged and EVOLved to love less TV and love myself more, I am aware of the Design Of the Universe (DOU) (dare I say I do not believe in god?) supporting my golden years with excellent health of greater immunity and greater flexibility than in my twenties. What is my secret? See my license plate: CRYBABE. Still, TV is my evening companion as I live alone. As is The SUN on waking and before sleeping.

It is hard to believe or comprehend that my grandmother’s vehicle for transport was her horse; and my great aunt Emma ‘s outhouse I used for peeing and pooping, neither owning a TV. My family’s black and white was delivered when I was ten years old and turned color when I reached college age, as well as being built smaller, while I was a single mother raising two beautiful daughters limiting TV watching. The upgrades have kept coming faster and slimmer, then smaller on one’s computers, and smart phones, where our democracy is seen desecrated on January 6th, 2021. I am greatfull to see more and more TRUTH being exposed by live videos as my three granddaughters grow up, where even our former president is being made accountable for his crimes, keeping American citizens informed of the TRUTH by investigative journalists, corroborated by the naked eye, on TV.



What’s up with PRIVACY

A 36-degree fog hangs around my apartment as I lift my head off the pillow, awakening in a cradle of cozy privacy, as the pond and forest are missing from my  bedroom large window’s view.

I am a fanatic about spacious light needing to surround me, thus, no curtains or blinds obscure. Unlike at my husband’s apartment, to which I drive 2 and a half hours usually every other weekend; we’re a commuter marriage.

Although I have broken free of my strict modesty expectations from growing up in a protestant fundamentalist family where the christian camp made girls and boys swim separately – and my husband has abandoned his catholic school religiosity, he still pulls the blinds down in the evening. He is afraid neighbors will see him in his underwear. Who cares? I say. I would walk nude anytime in my home and not care. Even his logic that children should not see nudity is a shame I cannot abide.

Over the 2 and half years we’ve been spiritually married, we’ve scraped off the glazed windows of the back porch one by one, with my persistence and elbow grease. Gradually, he admits, “I’m glad you convinced me; I like it being lighter!”

I like waking to the morning dawn, which means that eventually some windows are unblinded; him saying “You look beautiful in the morning light!” It’s been a tussle, as making love is definitely not to be seen according to my catholicized boy-man. There’s a front porch and two tall bushes that a neighbor would have to stare past. Why not give them the pleasure of our loving if they choose to cross the lawn and peer in?


My DAD – not my biological father whom I searched for at age 27. But that’s another story.

WHY is dad my idol?

I was conceived by rape; my mother felt too guilty and ashamed to want me. She met my dad-to-be when 5 months pregnant, returning from WWII, having met my dad-to-be as her diabetic patient.

They fell in love.

Often, I have written essays about the fabulous, extraordinary dad who chose to write his name on my birth certificate. How I felt loved as much as his 2 biological children born after me.

I can’t help it.

I could write a long list of WHY I love dad more everyday: as a baby he fed me, as a child he bathed me, carved a wooden doll bed, built a high swing set, and crafted a club house out of a radio-telescope crate brought home from his work as a radio-astronomer, played badminton with me after supper which he reliably showed up for at 5:30pm daily, opening his car door to lift me or my sister onto his lap to rumble up the driveway, asked his secretary to type my high school junior theme: Utopia, carved a water wheel with paddles turned by the small stream in our back yard, (I’m feeling sad), carved a whistle out of a willow branch during one of our many Sunday afternoon walks in nature, wrote vulnerable weekly letters to me while attending nursing school and early married life (tears appear), occasionally enjoyed clothes shopping with me, proudly led me down the aisle to my first husband, held my two young daughters often (crying now), etc. I must add feeling his shoulder next to mine while reading bedtime stories and supporting my questioning of mother’s rigid Christian beliefs of the bible.

Or I could write of the only-time he spanked me, the only-time I remember seeing his tender brown eyes glazed by a tear (sobbing). Or the only-time he ever yelled at me: STOP! As he was teaching me to drive our VW bug stick-shift.

Some family members still ask WHY I cry when speaking of how I miss his presence, he having died of a sudden heart attack in 1977. I miss his present: love (double meaning like being doubly loved.) As Adele Sweetman (apropos) writes in The SUN correspondence January 2023, “Missing her means you loved her…and that she loved you. Missing her means that all that love hasn’t gone anywhere.”

Just this past weekend, January 28, 2023, while walking my husband Dave across Cornell University’s campus to view several waterfalls, one from the suspension bridge, then across the arts quad, I spontaneously wanted to show Dave where my dad’s office was in the Space Sciences building, where a plaque in his memory I hoped still hung, where I had not been present for over a decade.

I was happily surprised to find the door open on Sunday, where I gloated proudly reading: “In MEMORY OF S. Michel Colbert, staff member of CRSR 1959-1977: “His talents, enthusiasm, and dedication were responsible in large measure for the design, construction and outfitting of the space sciences building in 1967.”

I am a Marriage and Family Therapist of 30 years because my space sciences daddy was way ahead of his time: an equally involved parent in the 50s, and 60s and then volunteering in the 70s for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service before it was fashionable for men.

My dad worked for Carl Sagan of Cosmos fame, where in The SUN SUNBEAMS he is quoted: “Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us – there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

LOVE… I think to myself.

I am who I am today in large measure because of dad’s extraordinary love.

At age 76, I am over the moon in love with my dad.


“There is an eternal (universal) truth and that is love.” – author unknown


COFFEE grows on me

For a longtime I liked the smell of coffee, yet never grew to drink it in college or brew it for my first four husbands. It is like loving to eat fresh strawberries but not liking strawberry ice cream.

Yet, when I travel to my second daughter’s home near Boston, coffee is ferried from Dunkin Donuts each morning as a regular routine. I’m asked if I want some and cannot resist joining in with a small cup, adding one sugar and one milk. On a cold day, it becomes appetizing like the connection of warmth I feel with my daughter whom I cannot help but love.

My warming up to coffee with my daughter’s family became routine when I visited several times a year in my sixties.

Now in my seventies, I’ve evolved from an occasional coffee at Wegman’s grocery store, swallowed along with a warm freshly made bagel, to making my own at home – yes, every morning. Who says elders can’t change?

I’ve even learned to use a French press…even enjoy an occasional hot coffee mixed with Bailey’s crème. With my fifth husband.



CRYing with what kinds of pain?

November 5th of this year, 2022, my spiritual husband, Dave and I were moving a double bedspring and mattress to my eldest daughter, Erin’s home on a sunny day, when I trip on the stairs, falling, aiming to hit mother earth with my arm, instead of my hard head, already fractured in 1991.

The pain in my right wrist was all consuming: I could not talk or be touched by anyone for minutes. (I had no pain with my seriously fractured skull, surprisingly.) Then I felt nauseous for maybe a half hour, while able to bend my wrist, before becoming swollen. Being a nurse, I knew I did not need to go to the ER as others suggested. Back at my daughter’s, who is also a nurse, I was given an ice pack and a caring evaluation, sweet as honey.

I tell Erin and Dave: “I am surprised that I did not cry. Why is that? As I cry easily when emotionally hurt.” I google several related questions with little if any scientific findings; one article written in 2020 states, “we recall emotional rejection more readily than physical pain.”

Years ago, when Erin told me, “I need to feel pain,” as we casually walked down the street, I was surprised! Yet, being a Marriage and Family Therapist with a primal therapy foundation, I am aware, as is she, that emotions repressed: not grieved, acknowledged, are screaming to be heard. Felt. Why our bodies develop physical symptoms such as headaches, backaches, stomach aches, trying to grab our attention.

My daughter chose to be tattooed.

After an hour of applied ice pack, then donning a wrist brace and sling, I am hiking with Dave on the Black Diamond Trail, feeling the flow of a waterfall, while still stumped, yet pleased that my body knows what to do. That crying (endorphins, natural pain killers are in emotional tears, whereas basal or reflex tears are of different composition), evolves my soul to be happy. *

*A male client of mine years ago said, “Crying makes me happy.”